Rural-urban disparities in psychosocial functioning in epithelial ovarian cancer patients

Rachel Telles, M. Bridget Zimmerman, Premal H. Thaker, George M. Slavich, Edgardo S. Ramirez, Sharaf Zia, Michael J. Goodheart, Steven W. Cole, Anil K. Sood, Susan K. Lutgendorf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Although rural residence has been related to health disparities in cancer patients, little is known about how rural residence impacts mental health and quality of life (QOL) in ovarian cancer patients over time. This prospective longitudinal study investigated mental health and QOL of ovarian cancer patients in the first-year post-diagnosis. Method: Women with suspected ovarian cancer completed psychosocial surveys pre-surgery, at 6 months and one-year; clinical data were obtained from medical records. Histologically confirmed high grade epithelial ovarian cancer patients were eligible. Rural/urban residence was categorized from patient counties using the USDA Rural-Urban Continuum Codes. Linear mixed effects models examined differences in psychosocial measures over time, adjusting for covariates. Results: Although disparities were not observed at study entry for any psychosocial variable (all p-values >0.22), urban patients showed greater improvement in total distress over the year following diagnosis than rural patients (p = 0.025) and were significantly less distressed at one year (p = 0.03). Urban patients had a more consistent QOL improvement than their rural counterparts (p = 0.006). There were no differences in the course of depressive symptoms over the year (p = 0.17). Social support of urban patients at 12 months was significantly higher than that of rural patients (p = 0.04). Conclusion: Rural patients reported less improvement in psychological functioning in the year following diagnosis than their urban counterparts. Clinicians should be aware of rurality as a potential risk factor for ongoing distress. Future studies should examine causes of these health disparities and potential long-term inequities and develop interventions to address these issues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-145
Number of pages7
JournalGynecologic oncology
StatePublished - May 2024


  • Depression
  • Ovarian cancer distress
  • Quality of life
  • Rural urban health disparities
  • Social support


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